Archives March 2021

A Bethesda Beat article featuring our community meeting

From Bethesda Beat

Elrich seeks developer to build White Flint life sciences, tech campus

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich envisions a mix of bioscience companies, startups, technology companies and a university presence near the White Flint Metro station. But first, he needs to find a lead developer, he said.

Elrich described what he has in mind to more than 100 people who attended a virtual meeting Thursday night. The nonprofit organization Friends of White Flint, which advocates for the White Flint/Pike District, hosted the forum.

Elrich said the county has entered a memorandum of understanding with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to develop land adjacent to the Metro station.

Elrich said the area is “perfectly positioned” for growth in life sciences and technology due to the site being close to federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as its accessibility due to proximity to Metro’s Red Line and the Beltway.

“We’ve got the land. We’ve got the transportation. We’ve got the industry … and I’m willing to drive purpose-driven development,” he said.

Elrich said a focus on the life sciences and computing industries will help with job growth, which has been lacking in recent years compared to the Northern Virginia suburbs.

“In Montgomery County, we’ve been in a 10-year stall where virtually no jobs are coming to the county. And if you don’t have jobs, you’re not gonna get any housing built,” he said. “There aren’t people demanding housing. … And so, if we’re gonna get both of those things unstuck, we need to do something deliberate.”

Elrich said he is concerned about the net loss of private business in the county, as well as the fact that fewer people age 25 to 44 are choosing to live here.

“None of these are a good trajectory to be on,” he said.

Elrich said the aim is to ensure businesses that offer high-paying jobs come to the corridor.

“I do not need more minimum-wage jobs in Montgomery County. That is not gonna foster a lot of economic growth. It’s not gonna foster people who have the incomes who can live in the apartments that will be built,” he said.

When asked about potential tenants for the area, Elrich said he first needs to send a proposal to a developer. He said he is not sure of the timeline for getting a developer, but said it could potentially happen in six months.

“Unfortunately, I don’t control markets, but everybody tells me there’s interest. And I’m not talking about people I know casually. I mean, developers have said flat out there’s an interest in being here. So that to me is encouraging,” he said.

Elrich said three universities “expressed interest” in being partners for the project, but he did not say which ones. He said he is getting ready to talk with representatives with one of the universities for the fourth time.

Asked about the future held for the former White Flint Mall site, Elrich first said, somewhat lightly, “you’ll have to talk to Alan Gottlieb,” referring to the chief operating officer of Lerner Enterprises, an owner of the former mall site.

Elrich then added more seriously that he doesn’t see Gottlieb “sitting on the sidelines.”

“I’m sure that he’s talking to people who’ve been talking to people and is aware that there is a growing interest in life sciences for that area. And he is rather uniquely positioned in the sense that he has a boatload of land that he can configure,” Elrich said.

Slides from County Executive Marc Elrich’s Presentation at Last Night’s Meeting

County Executive Marc Elrich shared his exciting vision and plans for a bioscience and quantum computing center located at the White Flint metro station.

The county has signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with WMATA to develop the empty parcel right by White Flint metro station into a campus that reflects Montgomery County’s strength as the epicenter of life sciences and coronavirus research. Mr. Elrich noted that he’s been in serious conversations with multiple universities to be partners in this project, as well as with the governor, who is supportive of this project. They hope to build this campus quickly, within a few years.

To refresh your memory, this is the grassy site that sits between Rockville Pike, Old Georgetown Road, Harris Teeter, and Marinelli Road.

Below are some of the slides that the County Executive shared last night at our online community meeting. You can see the entire slide deck here.

Join Marc Elrich at the FOWF Community Meeting Thursday night

Join Friends of White Flint for a fascinating presentation by County Executive Marc Elrich on his plans for an innovative biosciences campus at the White Flint metro station. The online meeting will be held Thursday, March 11, 7:00 pm. Register for the meeting by clicking here.

See and share the invitation at: http://www.whiteflint.org/wpx/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/FOWF-Community-Meeting-March-11-4-1.pdf

More than 120 people have already registered. Don’t miss out — register today!

Got questions about the upcoming Old Georgetown Road and Executive Blvd. intersection closure?

MCDOT is holding an online meeting to discuss the upcoming road closure and detour plans for pedestrian/bicyclist and vehicular traffic for the Old Georgetown Rd and Executive Blvd. intersection closing. The online meeting will be held Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 4PM – 5PM.

Please see the link below for the public meeting. This event is open to the public, and MCDOT will be taking questions via chat. https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetupjoin/19%3ameeting_NGVkZWJlNjQtNTFiOS00ZjVhLWIwZDUtZGYzNTczYmI1ZDAx%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%226e01b1f9-b1e5-4073-ac97-778069a0ad64%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%227abcc5b3-2e3c-43ad-a074-86c4c1b0b1c7%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

Read more about the closure here.

Ariana Kelly’s Fabulous Vaccination Update

Delegate Arian Kelly has a fabulous update on vaccination data in the state and county. Did you know:

  • This week, Maryland is up to 15.8% of our population vaccinated, and Montgomery County is above that average at 16.3%. In great news, 40% of Marylanders 65 and over are now vaccinated.
  • In the New York Times ranking of states based on the percentage of population vaccinated with at least one dose, we are ranked 31st out of 50 states.
  • State data reveals that while Latinos make up 11% of the Maryland population, they have received only 4% of the vaccine.
  • If you are trying to get an appointment at a State mass vaccination site, make sure to sign up for text alerts by texting “MDReady” to 898-211.
  • This week the Montgomery County Health Department sent invitations to everyone 75 and over who has pre-registered with the county. If you pre-registered and did not receive an invitation, check your junk mail! If you still have no invite, you should email c19vaccination@montgomerycountymd.gov or call 240.777.2982 and answer “yes” three times (MoCo resident, over 65, need assistance with the form). The agent will prioritize you for an appointment.
  • According to state data (as of March 2nd), the percentage of Montgomery County seniors vaccinated varies by age: 85+ = 58% vaccinated; 75-84 = 68% vaccinated, and 65-74 =33% vaccinated.
  • 17% of Montgomery County women are vaccinated. 11.5% of Montgomery County men are vaccinated

Proposed changes to the White Flint Taxing District

The county is proposing changes to the special White Flint Taxing District. For the fifteen people who aren’t property owners who are curious about this issue, you can peruse a Power Point presentation on the topic.

You can read Friends of White Flint’s official position here.

The County Council will hold a work session on the resolution to repeal and replace Resolution No. 16-1570 with respect to the White Flint Sector Plan Implementation Strategy and Infrastructure Improvement List and related amendments to the FY21-26 Capital Improvements Program on TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30PM

Metro Proposes Closing Grosvenor Station in 2022

Metro is proposing to close Grosvenor/Strathmore Metro Station in 2022 as part of cost saving measures due to budget issues. It is meant to be a temporary measure, but we think it’s a bad idea to close this station even temporarily. They have launched a survey to get feedback on various budget-cutting proposals, including closing Grosvenor/Strathmore station and running trains less frequently.

Please take a few moments to fill out Metro’s survey and make your voice heard, https://www.wmata.com/initiatives/budget/index.cfm

Please also send a message to Metro’s board at  boardofdirectors@wmata.com  BEFORE close of business on Tuesday, March 16. Tell the board members about the negative impact of the closure of the Grosvenor-Strathmore station. And remember, a concise message is more effective than a long, wordy one.

Welcome to the neighborhood, ALDI!

Combined Properties announced today it has signed a lease with ALDI at White Flint Plaza, marking the return of a grocery store to the North Bethesda shopping center.  The grocery chain will open in a 21,628 square foot space, a portion of the footprint previously occupied by Shoppers Food Warehouse.  The new North Bethesda location is part of ALDI’s recently announced plan to open 100 new stores across the United States in 2021.

“We are elated to announce the return of a respected grocer to White Flint Plaza,” says Jonathan Shartar, Senior Vice President at Combined Properties. “ALDI will be beneficial to the broader community, including the residents of the surrounding multifamily communities currently in development.  A grocery store brings essential daily traffic that, in turn, benefits all merchants at the center.”

With the lease fully executed, ALDI plans to open in late 2021.

ALDI will be a walkable grocery store with organic and cost-conscious options for nearby residential communities, including the forthcoming Harwood Flats, Foulger Pratt’s 335-apartment community located at 5454 Nicholson Lane that recently broke ground right next door to White Flint Plaza.

White Flint Plaza, located in North Bethesda along Nicholson Lane near Route 355, is an 195,000 square foot shopping center in the Pike District.  The Pike District represents North Bethesda’s emerging urban core, active with new development and soon to be a more bustling area with dynamic shopping, dining and living experiences alongside access to world-class entertainment, arts, culture and recreation in the heart of affluent Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous county.  Other merchants at White Flint Plaza include HomeGoods, PetSmart, Advance Auto, Title Boxing, Rodman’s Discount Gourmet and The UPS Store as well as restaurants Subway, Domino’s, Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly, The Big Greek Café and Vie de France.

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About Combined Properties

Combined Properties is a preeminent private real estate company specializing in retail, multifamily and mixed-use. The Company has a $2 billion portfolio of existing and under-construction assets, comprised of 40 properties in the Washington, DC and Southern California metropolitan areas totaling 6 million square feet, and an additional $1.25 billion in the development pipeline. Since its founding by Chairman Ronald S. Haft, Combined Properties has always strived to develop the true potential of a commercial property and passionately embraces developing real estate to meet the needs of a rapidly changing landscape by combining creativity, lifestyle, community, and technology. Combined applies its creative and entrepreneurial expertise in development, finance, leasing and asset management to create innovative retail, residential, hospitality, and mixed-use communities that instill pride and joy in the people that live, shop, and stay there. For more information on Combined Properties, visit www.combined.biz.

Join us for an online community meeting with County Executive Marc Elrich

Join Friends of White Flint for a fascinating presentation by County Executive Marc Elrich on his plans for an innovative biosciences and quantum computing campus at the White Flint metro station. The online meeting will be held Thursday, March 11, 7:00 pm. Register for the meeting by clicking here.

See and share the invitation at: http://www.whiteflint.org/wpx/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/FOWF-Community-Meeting-March-11-4-1.pdf